Narcissus Give Way, Selfies Are Here!

Posted: October 8, 2015

People seem to take selfies everywhere. It’s like everybody is trying to be perfect. Here’s a take on the rise of the selfie phenomenon.

Not so long ago, I was in a Salon for a haircut. My adjacent chair was taken up by a little girl. She must have been around 10. As the hair dresser started to work on her hair, she borrowed the cell phone from her mother and with every snip of her hair, there was a selfie. In 20 minutes, she must have clicked around 100 selfies. Don’t get too excited, for this is just a welcome note to the world where people click photos of themselves and publish it on their social networking sites. This 10-year-old is just one of an example of such a glaring, self-obsessed world. The epidemic is deeper and it can be darker too.

We live in an age of information. Nothing happens anywhere that does not show itself in social media. It’s an age where you can love, worship and adore yourself. Narcissus only adored his reflection in water. Look around, in busy streets, public transportation and even in public buildings you can see people who are just clicking themselves away. Ever wondered why people click themselves in mundane place with thousands of strangers passing by? It’s not even a selfie with a monumental building or some scenic beauty behind it. It’s just a random one. No place has been spared, there are selfies everywhere, in offices, washrooms, dinner tables and the bedroom.  What does it talks about us and its impact on society in general?

As, I spoke to people who took selfies, the first sentence that greeted me was, “What’s the harm? It’s self love.”

As, I spoke to people who took selfies the first sentence that greeted me was, “What’s the harm? It’s self love.” True, self love is a good thing. In fact, a great thing, especially when it comes to women’s bodies, as there are so many complexes, if women are coming ahead and posting their photos to the world, it speaks volumes of self confidence and self acceptance. We can also say in chorus, that there is nothing wrong in a harmless selfie, but give it a moment, for the story has many shades to it.

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has something very important to say. 1 out of every 3 surgeons says that the demand for surgery have increased after the advent of social media. It’s the craze of looking perfect in that picture that you post in facebook, twitter or Instagram.

And celebrities like Kim Kardarshain, Beyonce and Miley Cyrus took the selfie craze to a new level. They have put themselves out there in every pose and place. And that takes us to the next question, what about women who never had or have the body of Kim Kardarshain. And does not the selfie culture put emphasis on the age old gender role where a woman’s physical features are so much emphasized upon over everything else. Are now we falling trap to the mythical world of being picture perfect.

There is nothing wrong in selfies unless it becomes your esteem booster which in-turn it happens. Most of us in the selfie world are looking for the likes and comments that a selfie might generate and people who might not garner enough are most likely fall into the pit of extreme low self esteem. In no ways in the fickle and unreal world of social media you can count on it to make you feel better each time. I was recently reading an acclaimed young writer who asked if she was not human when someone remarked nastily on her Instagram photo. That’s the pitfall of social media anyone can tell you anything and get away with.

In home grounds,  when Salman Khan’s sister Arpita Khan got married there was a huge selfie that included Karan Johar, Katrina Kaif, Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao and host of other celebrities.

Yes! Selfies have taken all over. In home grounds,  when Salman Khan’s sister Arpita Khan got married there was a huge selfie that included Karan Johar, Katrina Kaif, Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao and host of other celebrities. It did rounds on every social media platform. Not to forget the selfies with and by Narendra Modi the PM of our country. Shahrukh Khan regularly posts his dozes of selfies even when as he says, he was bored, and actresses like Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan carries the legacy forward. In the international arena Obama and Pope too features in the lists. So the craze goes on.

We agree its fun to have your face clicked, but when it goes beyond 10 clicks each day, it tell something more and attention seeking is one of them. After a break up, a friend of ours put five selfies a day, that somehow talked about her need for approval or a temporary show how the break up did not affect her. Here is story of a teenager who almost committed suicide because he could not get the “perfect selfie.”

Danny Brown a 19 year old teenager from East Sussex said that taking the perfect selfie became his obsession. He confessed that he would take 200 selfies a day on his iPhone each day. He told ABC News “It became a habit … to the point where I was taking 200 [photos of myself] a day,” “I wanted to find the perfect selfie. … I wanted to look like them people on the front of Vogue, like them people on the front of GQ. Perfection was the key.”

In that process he left school and was homebound for 6 months in the mad rush to click a perfect selfie. He finally was so depressed when he could not get one that he took an overdose. Fortunately his mother found him and rushed him to hospital. In his interview he further adds, “I would see skin discolorment. I would see spots potentially coming. I would see my hair wasn’t perfectly coifed … my nose was too big. Everything was a problem, and it seemed that that the only way to get rid of that problem … was to take these photos, and examine them completely… and it became just out of control.”

His parents said how he lost interest in anything, he stopped going out, ate lesser each day and dropped from the teams in school he was in.

His parents said how he lost interest in anything, he stopped going out, ate lesser each day and dropped from the teams in school he was in. And there came a time he thought he could not take it anymore and decided to end his life, because his selfies were never perfect inspite of repeated attempts.

In the Teenvogue Psychologist Jill Weber, Ph.D., says “there’s a danger that your self-esteem may start to be tied to the comments and Likes you get when you post a selfie, and they aren’t based on who you are—they’re based on what you look like. On one hand, seeking validation is totally normal. It’s a healthy way for teenagers to develop their identity.” But with social networks, where it’s easy to get quick hits of approval almost constantly, the selfie thing can quickly spiral out of control. It may even start to feel like an addiction: When you get a “GORGE,” you’re up, but when you get nothing—or a “get over yourself”—your confidence can plummet. Girls in particular are socialized toward seeing themselves as lovable and worthwhile only if others value them, and “selfie culture is a way for this tendency to go into overdrive.”

And wait a minute selfies don’t only end there. It has taken the worst pathetic turn. There is also a new trend which definitely needs to be punished by law which is ‘funeral selfie.’ There had been selfies that has been taken in funerals, which shows the utter insensitivity we have consumed ourselves with. In the world of selfies no one exist but the person itself. As if the Universe turns and revolves around them. It has no space for a different face or a different color. In a mad rush to get perfect selfies to be brides goes to surgeons for hand corrections, so that the selfie they take with their newly wedded rings should look perfect. It’s a race to be perfect everytime.

In this bid to be perfectly lovable we click one after another selfie.

In this bid to be perfectly lovable we click one after another selfie. As, I kept researching about this craze, I wondered how that ten-year-old girl in the parlor will grow up as. Will she be someone where she could only see herself or someday she will find a new color in the sky and may be take a picture if it too. I interviewed a lady who is 26 and works in a media firm. She uploads almost 20 selfies a day. In her facebook profile, she has office selfie, washroom selfie, just like that selfie, car selfie and the list continues. I chased her for days for an interview and when I could finally have a facetime with her all she said, “It makes me feel wanted.”

As, I was driving back home, winters have fallen into the city and the skyline looks beautiful. I know after meeting me she will indulge in another selfie obsession. But life is so much more than the selfie, the likes and comments. I see a child grinning through the glass window, an old woman smiling, a couple looking at each other full of love. There is nothing wrong in getting one selfie, but you might just miss another person who could touch a moment or another dream that you can make come true.

I end this piece with what Bowman the teenager who tried to commit suicide over selfies said, after intensive therapy. “I’m never going to be completely cured,” he said. “I feel happy. I don’t feel perfect, but I feel happy.”

And at the end that what matters, that is to be happy.  You will find it all, if you care to look beyond your phone’s screen. And one more reminder- just like life you are not perfect but extremely beautiful. It’s okay you can keep your phone down and take a walk on the streets  and you will find a billion reasons to be happy and grateful for.

Cover image via Shutterstock

Proud Indian. Senior Writer at Women's Web. Columnist. Book Reviewer. Street Theatre - Aatish. Dreamer.

Learn More

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Comments

Share your thoughts! [Be civil. No personal attacks. Longer comment policy in our footer!]

NEW in September! Best New Books by Women Authors

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

Orange Flower 2018